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Smile & Say Cheese!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and for genealogists, they certainly can be. Do you have old family photos stored in your attic or basement? Perhaps you have albums, boxes, or hard drives filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of photos. These are invaluable resources for genealogy!

Have you taken time to study family photos closely to see what clues or information may be contained within them? In addition to the people in the photos, their clothing, hairstyles, and posture as well as the objects in the photo and the background can provide clues that enhance your family story. You can use the Photo Analysis Worksheet to take notes about your observations and questions.

As genealogists, we always want to interview our relatives to see what they can tell us about our families. Photos can be a great way to interview them, and they are great conversation starters! Your relatives may help you identify people who appear in the photos which may lead to stories about the events that are captured in the photos.

There are other ways to investigate your photos, too. Have you considered using facial recognition software? Google Photos and MyHeritage both have options that could be very helpful for dating and identifying people in photos. Google Photos (free with an email account) can be particularly helpful if you can identify a person in a couple of photos. The algorithms can then work to find your relatives in other photos, perhaps when they were younger or older. MyHeritage’s PhotoDater (subscription) has an option to upload photos to discover the time period when it was taken. This information can be helpful for identifying where it was taken and who else appears in the photo.

Are you interested in learning more about using family photos for genealogical research? Check out books by Maureen Taylor (AKA the Family Photo Detective). We have quite a few at the library!

4 book covers

Fun Activity

Are you looking to have a little fun with your likeness? Try out FamilySearch’s Compare A Face feature where you can upload your photo and see which relatives you most resemble. This requires you to have a family tree and photos on the tree, but it can be fun activity to try!

Categories: Genealogy

Tags: Genealogy

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